CHESHIRE Jets owner Hadyn Cook admits he is ‘very disappointed’ to see the club thrown out of the British Basketball League (BBL) over ongoing financial problems.
Chester businessman Cook stepped in to save the troubled franchise from going bust last month after previous owner Peter Hawkins put the Jets up for sale.
He brought Jets legend James Hamilton back as player coach and the American managed to bring in enough players to ensure the club was able to start the season.
But Hamilton quit the Northgate Arena club following just three games in charge – with captain Chez Marks then appointed caretaker coach – and the Jets were struggling to balance their books.
The BBL yesterday withdrew the Jets franchise after Cook asked for Sunday’s scheduled match against rivals Mersey Tigers to be postponed.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Cook. “Everybody knew there was a difficult situation last summer and it has proved even more difficult than we expected.
“I realise it was going to take longer to turnaround and require far more investment than I was able to put in.
“I didn’t want to get into that situation and we have had to face facts. It’s a very painful situation for us.
“Frankly, it needs more time and resources but with the current state of the economy that is not easy.
“I would like to thank Terry Hearfield from our main sponsors Aspect Construction who has been fantastic.”
Cook is hopeful that the Jets can return to competitive action next season, albeit at a much lower level.
He also hopes to keep the successful Jets Foundation community programme alive.
“We want to keep the community side going and get more people participating in basketball,” he said.
“We would need to build from the grassroots up and I think entering a team in division four of the English Basketball League and working our way up is possible.
“The club would need to have realistic budgets and have to cut its cloth accordingly.
It’s not ideal and would be tough but it is more honest and sustainable.
“I want to thank the volunteers who have been fabulous and I hoping we can rebuild and not have a fragile club but one where the numbers stack up.”
A statement from the BBL said: “The BBL have withdrawn the Cheshire franchise from its operating company with immediate effect.
“The decision follows an urgent review of the franchise following notification from the club that they were unable to fulfil their fixture this weekend.
“The BBL is currently exploring a number of options to ensure the continuation of the franchise. It is anticipated there will be a further announcement in the coming days.”
Jets are regarded as one of the most successful clubs in British basketball with the 2002 ‘Jetwash’ team winning all four BBL trophies.
Despite the close season problems, the club had made an encouraging start to the current season under Hamilton before he left the club.
Last Saturday, they pushed league leaders Leicester Riders all the way before suffering a 79-75 overtime defeat, before losing narrowly 82-75 to London Lions on Sunday.
n Wrexham Raiders suffered a 76-52 home defeat against Llandudno Lightning in their North Wales League game at Glyndwr University.
After finishing the first quarter tied at 10-10 it looked like Raiders were in with a chance of winning their second game of the season, but halfway through the second quarter Lightning found their range and their percentage of successful baskets to out score Raiders.
Finishing the second quarter 16 points clear, Lightning made it difficult for Raiders to come back.
In the second half the visitors from Llandudno outscored Raiders by five and then 13 points in the third and fourth quarters respectively, despite Adam Krezminski sinking four three pointers in the second half.
Wrexham Warriors travel to Mold on Friday night.
See full story in the Chester Leader